chapter  6
20 Pages

In the ‘new Great Game’, who is getting played? Chinese investment in Kazakhstan’s petroleum sector

ByRYAN KENNEDY

The literature on the geopolitics of Central Asia often describes the situation as a scramble for political influence between China, Russia and the USA. This competition has also been called the ‘grand chessboard’ (Brzezinski 1997: 64), a ‘zerosum game’ (Whitmore 2008: 4) and the re-establishment of China’s ‘traditional vassal relations’ over the region (Swanstrom 2005: 581). The most popular moniker, however, draws a parallel between the current situation and the ‘great game’ played out between Russia and Britain from 1813 to 1907 (Rumer 1993: 89; see also Kleveman 2003; Ahrari 1996; Smith 1996). This ‘new Great Game’ between three major powers to gain a strategic foothold and control the natural resources of the region has permeated much of the analysis of international relations in Central Asia.